Disruption of the internet, even when done for security reasons, is a denial of what is to be considered a modern day fundamental right.
A woman harassed on a bus accesses the police app seeking to be rescued. The cops track the bus on her GPS and arrest the perps even as the bus reaches the terminal. This is just one of several vital emergency services useful to modern societies made possible by seamless and instant communication technology.
Just imagine what happens to women’s safety if the Internet were to be switched off because of apprehensions over internal security. But this is exactly what is happening in India, which now boasts of the dubious record of disrupting the Internet by asking the ISPs to switch off the net in cities in response to gathering anti-CAA and NRC protests.
Disruptions of the net across the country done on the ground that they inhibit gathering of crowds and spreading of rumours is a limp excuse in the class of comparable colonial mentality acts like the clamping of Section 144. Having switched off the net 134 times in 2018, the authorities may be nearing a new record of repression in the current year.
Disruption of the internet, even when done for security reasons, is a denial of what is to be considered a modern day fundamental right. The right to express an opinion has become a fundamental right too in the age of the social media on the Internet, provided, of course, it does not go as far as to incite violence or aid committing it.
The issue also goes beyond critical areas like accessing emergency services. The shutting of the Internet disrupts banking, commerce and several other aspects of life that have been facilitated by the march of technology marking the modern world. And India is risking a return to medieval times even when it has all the tools of surveillance, which it uses routinely to monitor the Web.